Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Yes, Bros4Hillary is a part of Clinton's million dollar troll campaign

Since yesterday, I've been getting endless complaints because of this tweet:
You can see a typical example of the criticism I've been hearing here. In general, the group and its various supporters are mad because I identified them as a part of CTR's "goon squad"; like most of Clinton's media surrogates, the standard defense is to insist that they are not actually receiving checks from Clinton or her super PACs.

This sort of defense, as I've noted before, is grossly misleading. Clinton's messaging operation is deliberately designed to give participants plausible deniability while leveraging campaign funds and resources in defiance of both campaign finance law and basic progressive doctrine.

In this case, it's fairly straightforward how they do it:
1. CTR claims the right to coordinate online communications with the Clinton campaign. This, in a campaign messaging operation, can entail coordinating everything from what groups and individuals to promote and market to what messages they should disseminate. 
2. CTR then uses its massive warchest for "thanking [read: promoting] prominent supporters and committed superdelegates on social media." It also "serve[s] as a resource...for positive content and push-back to share with...online progressive communities" - that is, it disseminates communications and materials designed using CTR's massive resources, potentially in coordination with the official campaign. 
3. We know that Clinton's communications operations has already used its resources to promote Bros4Hillary: on Twitter, through CTR's "Barrier Breakers" initiative, and through David Brock's Blue Nation Review. There are of course all kinds of other ways to promote groups like this, with or without their coordination; for example, the group's main organizational hub is a Facebook page, which anyone can easily set up ads for. (Notably, The Wrap reports that "The group started as little more than a Facebook page, but for reasons even its organizers can’t quite explain, it took off.") 
4. Content coordination is obviously more difficult to verify. It can include anything from proprietary image assets (publicity shots, stock photos, etc) to video footage to their branded font (Unity) to messaging guidelines (specific themes and talking points, particular phrasing and hashtagging, deployment schedules, and so on) to completely prefabricated material produced in-house. Assets and materials can just sit in an online content bin, ready for the taking; coordination can just be a matter of CTR sending out "suggestions" or "here's what we're talking about today" communications to third parties, who may be passively "inspired" to disseminate their messaging. We know that CTR does this with journalists.
Bros4Hillary are not, of course, a significant or influential group by any stretch of the imagination, but they are exemplary of the appratchiks complicit in Clinton's operation. They deny coordinating content with CTR, of course, though as far as I can tell no one has ever admitted this. And Bros4Hillary denies a lot of things. But instead of disavowing CTR, they've openly embraced promotion by Brock and his illegal front groups. That's incriminating enough. Promotion is an in-kind donation, and you can't accept funding from a de facto campaign finance laundering racket and expect to walk away with your hands clean.